Monday, April 25, 2016


On Building A Stonewalk In November

This river drifts the land,

In the long air of pines

I smell spring.

Down here, don’t wear gloves,

Don’t wear boots with leaks,

Stay working, and of course

Use the flat stones —

All the things

One learns

In a first year —

The boots take awhile, I know.

But come to you water gentle,

Very clear

Draw strong

Carry the river home to bathe.

It is November / wide open / colding

There is ice you shouldn’t trust.


Hiking down from a hillside

Snow packed, saw on the shoulder

There is no doubt now

of rain in the air

I stop at a sound

Far / nearing / wait

Two crows flying

Calling, wide apart

One straight south

The other — eastward

Belly on the tree line

I've lost sight of one

For keeping with the other

Dog Meat

Up on the hill where the sun warms

Under thick maples he used to

Pull a sled of sap buckets past,

I’d see him right there as I walked the road

Pastured in a circle of stamped snow,

Content with hay and pail of oats —

Soft brown except where the hooves

Bushed long white hairs.

Never seemed to move from that place

Though his eyes would see me from a distance,

Wait and turn his head as I went by —

We would look at one another, and I

Remember it very clear today as I pass

And he’s nowhere around —

Sold for $350 I found out later.

The first time in seven years

I haven’t nodded to him my hello,

And this walk isn’t the same.

Sugarhouse Gone

You’d think it would have

Lasted forever like some

Of them around here do —

This one halfway nested

Beneath the ground, piled

On stone. Downstairs, then

Empty of buckets, if you looked

Above between wide floor boards

You would see where tubs

Of sap are brought to boil

And a few souls go at it day and night

In this tiny place with windows lit,

And open shutters of the cupola

Dieseling clouds of sweet steam

Had you at some point in the day

Lean for a cooling moment out the

Sugarhouse door — feeling a realness

In yourself, the redwing’s flight over

Steep pasture, dry mud on high boots —

All of this for warm days and cold nights.

While the fire that bubbled your syrup

Was somehow the same fire

That burned you down.  


Bob Arnold
(Mad River Press)